NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - Judith Doughty cried tears of joy and disbelief as she was reunited with her dog, Skylar, who went missing three years ago.
Skylar is a 6-year-old Maltese. Doughty said she got him when he was a puppy, but one day he disappeared after going outside to use the bathroom.
She said he was with another dog but didn’t return. Her family searched for him and was devastated when they couldn’t find him.
Three years went by with no sign of Skylar - until last week, when Sherae Battle was driving to the hospital with her kids in Newport News.
“My kids were like, 'Mom, Mom, Mom, hold on. It’s a dog.' I'm like, 'Where?' He was just walking in the street, and I'm like, ‘Oh, my gracious,' so I did a U-turn in the middle of the street,” Battle said.
She said the dog went to a nearby wooded area to drink from a pond. She said she was worried he would fall in, and her kids used Goldfish crackers to lure him to them.
They brought him to the car and kept him for two days until the Peninsula Regional Animal Shelter opened back up.
“I immediately scanned for the microchip, which is standard procedure for us when strays come in,” said Susan Jacobs, an animal services technician at the shelter.
She called the number on the chip, and it was owner Judith Doughty’s daughter, Ginger Vassar, who answered.
“I could hardly speak to her because she was screaming in excitement,” Jacobs said.
Vassar arranged to bring her mom to the shelter, but they didn’t tell Doughty why to surprise her.
“The lady told me to have a seat,” said Doughty. “They said, 'We've got a surprise for you.'”
Skylar came strolling out, and Doughty was elated to have her precious pooch back in her arms.
“He started licking me; I started crying,” Doughty said. “It was a miracle to me. I still can’t believe I got him back after three years.”
Skylar went missing near Warwick Boulevard and Campbell Road in Newport News and was found near the intersection of Buxton Boulevard and Victoria Boulevard, about 15 miles away.
"I'm so happy she was able to get her dog back. That's all that matters. I'm so happy," said Sherae Battle, the woman who brought the dog to the shelter.
Jacobs said Skylar was in good condition and appeared to have been taken care of. She said it's rare to see a dog reunited with his owner three years after going missing.
“It doesn't happen that often, but it has happened before. We're always so happy when it does happen -- thank goodness for microchipping. It's just awesome,” Jacobs said.
“Glad we got him to his right owner. I'm so happy that she got her dog back,” Battle said.
“I was sad when he was gone, but I didn’t give up. I prayed and prayed, and the Lord answered my prayers. Anyone else who sees this, I hope they try to look for their dogs,” Doughty said.
Watch the surprise video below: